In a Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted calls for tougher restrictions despite the UK recording over 200,000 cases for the first time.
Almost 220,000 cases were reported, including a backlog over the bank holiday weekened.
The incidents have been declared because of “extreme and unprecedented” staff shortages which have resulted in “compromised care”.
Many NHS trusts across England and Wales also declared a major incident in recent days due to a rise in numbers of staff having to isloate following positive tests.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson tweeted:
“A number of trusts across the country have declared internal critical incidents over the last few days.”
“One has received particular media attention overnight. But there are others… A trust will declare a critical incident if it believes it might not be able to provide range of critical / priority services it needs to.”
Boris Johnson warned that the weeks ahead “are going to be challenging” and that staff absences will lead to some disruption.
He stated that England would resist a full lockdown, but encouraged people to get boosted and wear face masks in order to limit the spread.
The prime minister also stated a targeted delivery of 100,000 lateral flow tests per day will be given to key industries, such as logistics and transport, in order to keep supply lines safer.
Retired teachers are also being asked to return to the workforce to cover absences.
Boris Johnson and Sir Chris Whitty both stated that the Omicron variant is more mild, but is still causing significant numbers of hospitalisations. Whitty emphasised that many, particularly those who are vulnerable or have underlying conditions will die even though the Omicron variant is more mild.
They emphasised that the majority of those being hospitalised are unvaccinated and encouraged greater take up of the booster, and first and second doses, to tackle the spread of the new variant.